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What are Rabies Vaccine Allergies?

Rabies vaccinations are something that almost every dog receives in their yearly trip to the veterinarian, and sometimes every 3 years for the longer lasting vaccine. These vaccines are meant to prevent the horrible, and incurable disease that plagues wildlife and unfortunately spreads to domestic animals such as cats and dogs. As with many things that are meant to help, they sometimes have side effects. Your dog can react to anything that enters their body that their immune system deems unsafe, but when it comes to vaccines many times veterinarians must work past the allergy to prevent a disease.

An allergic reaction to the rabies vaccine is your dog’s immune system having a hypersensitive response to the vaccine itself. Symptoms can range from skin rash to diarrhea, and in very rare cases acute kidney failure.

Rabies Vaccine Allergies Average Cost

From 571 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$400

Symptoms of Rabies Vaccine Allergies in Dogs

Your dog’s symptoms may not always be the same as what other dogs may experience. If you suspect your dog is having an allergic reaction to a vaccine, contact your veterinarian. Symptoms may or may not include the following:

  • Discomfort and swelling at the site of injection 
  • Mild fever
  • Lack of appetite
  • Decrease in activity or desire to play
  • Swelling of face, eyes, and ears 

It is important to note that swelling at the injection site is common and may last up to a week after shot is received, though it should still be reported to the clinic. If the site begins to appear infected or an abscess forms, your pet should be seen by your veterinarian. If a tumor grows at site of injection, report it to the veterinarian.

Rare and more serious symptoms may occur within a few minutes, hours or days of the vaccination. If any of the following symptoms develop, seek veterinary attention immediately. 

  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Hives or itchy skin 
  • Collapse 
  • Respiratory distress

Types

Hypersensitivity, or allergic reaction, could be a result of the vaccine antigen or other minerals and proteins found in the vaccine. BSA (otherwise known as Fraction V or Bovine Serum Albumen) and Fibronectin are proteins usually derived from cows that are used in vaccines and have been known to have antibody reactions from dogs. 

  • Type 1 - Acute anaphylaxis: angioedema (large welts), anaphylaxis or shock, and death

  • Type 2 - Cytotoxic reactions of the Type 2 variety can be the cause of several different diseases in dogs such as blood clotting issues, muscle and skin disorders, and anemia
  • Type 3 - Cutaneous ischemic vasculopathy which has been associated with the rabies vaccine can occur at the site of injection or another, more distant location such as the tips of the ears; this is known as the immune complex

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Causes of Rabies Vaccine Allergies in Dogs

Your dog’s body has a wonderful defense system to keep it safe from the many things that could make him sick, this is called the immune system. The immune system attacks anything that enters your dog’s system that it feels will cause it harm to the body, sending antibodies to attack the foreign substance. Unfortunately, sometimes it will attack things that are actually meant to help, such as vaccines. This is the same process that causes some dogs to react to seasonal allergens such as pollen. There are many things that can cause an allergic reaction in your dog; here is a brief list of some allergens your pet could develop or currently have: 

  • Bee stings
  • Vaccines
  • Protein sources (i.e. chicken and/or beef) 
  • Pollen (seasonal)
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Diagnosis of Rabies Vaccine Allergies in Dogs

Most symptoms of an allergic reaction are easily diagnosed just through visual signs and symptoms. Many veterinarians warn clients of common reactions to vaccines that many pets have that are not cause for alarm such as lethargy, lack of appetite (only for 1 or 2 meals), pain at injection site, lack of desire to run and walk, and even sometimes a mild fever. These sometimes may last 2-3 days after the vaccines are given, however an allergic reaction to a vaccine may show before you even leave the clinic. Facial swelling or swelling of the ears will many times be a red flag and will cause your veterinary caregiver to take a second look. If symptoms occur a day or so later then your veterinarian may explore other options by testing with bloodwork to confirm that it isn’t something more serious, especially if your dog has had one or more severe symptoms.

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Treatment of Rabies Vaccine Allergies in Dogs

If your canine immediately shows symptoms after the injection is given your veterinarian will, in many cases, inject either an antihistamine, corticosteroids, or epinephrine to calm the side effects. What your veterinarian chooses will be based on the severity of side effects. Your pet may also require IV fluids and oxygen, and if necessary ventilation and endotracheal intubation may be performed. In less urgent cases dexamethasone or diphenhydramine are given. When in the late stages of reaction to the substance, oral corticosteroids or antihistamines are usually prescribed for 2-3 days. 

Monitor your dog for the next week after reaction occurs for previous symptoms such as hives or vomiting and diarrhea to arise again. If symptoms return contact your veterinarian.

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Recovery of Rabies Vaccine Allergies in Dogs

If your dog should have an allergic reaction to any medication or vaccine, always alert your veterinarian and ask that a note be made in their file. Your dog may have to be dosed with an antihistamine or an anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) prior to vaccinations for the rest of his life to prevent reactions to the vaccine itself. For the safety of yours and other animals, rabies shots are required at the minimum for dogs in most states. It is rare that states give an exemption to the rabies vaccination by the authority of your veterinarian. Though in some states it is allowed if a veterinarian determines that, for health reasons, the dog should no longer receive said vaccine until the patient is deemed healthy enough to receive the vaccination again.  The veterinarian may also request that your pet stay in the office up to 30 minutes after your appointment has finished to monitor your dog’s reaction to the vaccination. 

In some cases, your veterinarian may choose to continue using the same vaccine type, but from a different manufacturer, though it should be noted that the same proteins that caused a reaction in one vaccine may very well be present in another and so changing the manufacturer does not guarantee that your pet will not have a reaction. Depending on the severity of the reaction, once medication is given, your pet may improve within 15-30 minutes.

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Rabies Vaccine Allergies Average Cost

From 571 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$400

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Rabies Vaccine Allergies Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Yorkshire Terrier

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Eleven Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Eye

My dog just got rabbie shots in order to get his haircut, this was within two days of each other, he has a swollen lump under his eye. It looks like a boil. He’s still acting himself just cry’s when he scratches the lump or if you try to touch it. The lady who did the shot said the shot may cause him to swell. After looking up what this could be it says he might be allergic to the shot

July 31, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Rabin vaccines can cause reactions, and you can sometimes see a swelling where the vaccine was actually given, but that is typically not under the eye, and I think this is probably not related to the vaccine. It would be a good idea to have him seen for a recheck by a veterinarian, as they can see what might be causing this painful lump under his eye. I hope that he is okay.

July 31, 2020

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Zailey Grace

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Boxer

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1 Year

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

My dog got her rabies shot 5 days after she started coughing really bad took her to vet they thought it was kennel cough..but come to find out it was an enlarged heart. The day she got her shots her lungs were clear five days after she was all congested in the chest...could it be a bad reaction to rabies vaccine

Aug. 12, 2018

Zailey Grace's Owner

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0 Recommendations

Dilated cardiomyopathy can be a silent killer since the heart may be enlarged but there is no clear indication from a standard physical examination (auscultation etc…) that the heart is enlarged; sometimes dilated cardiomyopathy is diagnosed from an x-ray for another condition or necropsy, I cannot confirm or comment on when the heart become enlarged. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM https://wagwalking.com/sense/can-dogs-feel-sick-after-rabies-shot

Aug. 12, 2018

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Zenyatta

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Rottweiler

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3 Months

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Not Having Food
Drinking Lot Of Water
Urinating Alot

My 3 months old Rottweiler had 2nd vaccination 2 days back and now she is not showing much interest to food.She drinks alot of water but refuses all kind of food.is it because of any disease?

Aug. 10, 2018

Zenyatta's Owner

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0 Recommendations

A loss of appetite and other gastrointestinal symptoms (vomiting, diarrhoea etc…) are side effects commonly associated with the rabies vaccines, they are generally self limiting and don’t really require veterinary action unless they persist for more than a few days or an animal becomes dehydrated. If you have any concerns, call your Veterinarian for a discussion. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 11, 2018

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Meeko

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Maltese

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1 Year

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Throwing Up, Swelling Yesterday

Hello! My 1 year old dog just got his 3 year rabies shot , and he is typically sensitive to his vaccines which my other vet would give Benadryl beforehand but I went to a new one since I moved to a different state they said that since he had junior rabies shot he should be fine well it’s been 23 hours and my puppy threw up 2x last night and once this morning but keeps drinking and eating normally even tho I’m feeding him lightly and his face did swell up yesterday off and on. And after throwing up he just wants to rest but when he wakes up he acts normal. His urine is good and so is his stool as of right now. Do you think I should take him to the vet or wait a couple more hours for the symptoms to go away?

July 22, 2018

Meeko's Owner

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0 Recommendations

Some vomiting and general gastrointestinal upset is a noted side effect of rabies vaccination and the Benadryl wouldn’t be effective against these side effects; if Meeko isn’t in any distress and there is no swelling you should keep an eye on him for the time being but if there is no improvement or symptoms get worse you should return to your Veterinarian for an examination to be on the safe side. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 23, 2018

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Moka

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Shetland Sheepdog

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11 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy
Sneezing
Facial Swelling
Running Nose
Running Eyes

36 hours post-rabies vaccine my dog Moka experienced severe swelling above her left eye. Brought her back to the vet where they guessed it was a bug bite and administered steroid/antihistamine. Over several days the swelling subsided, but bilateral eye and nasal draining + sneezing ensued. This is now 2 weeks later and the facial swelling has returned. Can this be a vaccine reaction, or a coincidence? Moka was fine before her vaccine. She is now on antibiotics and this seems to be helping her. She has never experienced allergies of any type in her life. Oral antihistamines were not improving her allergy-like symotoms before the facial swelling returned. The inital swelling was clearly not a bug bite.

June 25, 2018

Moka's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

I would not think that 2 weeks later Moka would still be having a reaction to the vaccine, and it is possible that this is unrelated but coincidental. Hopefully the antibiotics continue to help resolve this problem for her!

June 25, 2018

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Maxi

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French Bulldog

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12 Years

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Critical severity

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea

My 12 yo female French Bulldog went for well care this afternoon at 1:30. She had a 1yr. Rabies vaccine - only, and was premedicated for possible vaccine reaction. Years ago she had a reaction to distemper and that was eliminated from her plan of care. She died around 4pm this afternoon as a result of anaphylactic reaction to this vaccine. So sad. Well dog going in for routine, annual, well care with no problems. My heart is broken.

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Ivy Lyn

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Chihuahua

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4 Months

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

No Appetite, Sleepy, Loss Of Energy

My 4 month old miniature chihuahua Ivy, got her first rabies shot on Tuesday, Wednesday she was fine...she ate her morning food...treats and dinner. But on Thursday morning she didn’t want to eat anything, she didn’t want to play with her other 2 sister, like she does while I prepare her food...she went straight to her pillow and has been sleeping. She did get up to pee and poop, which looked normal. But since 7:30 am she hasn’t eaten anything...I called her vet from VCA Animal Hospital and she told me it was normal....to keep an eye on her and if tomorrow morning she still didn’t want to eat or play, to bring her in. I have 4 miniature chihuahuas, Dolly 12 years old, Skittles 1year 6 month, HarleyQuin 5 month and Ivy Lyn 4 month....HarleyQuin and Ivy are sisters...same dad and moms are sisters. Non of them shown any reaction to any of their shots like this...only HarleyQuin the day of her shot she didn’t play but ate normal. I’ve been with this vet for 12 years and she’s extremely good....but I’m so worried about Ivy, because it’s not her.

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Artemis

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Shepherd husky

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1 Year

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Sudden Frequent Urination

Artemis recieved her 1yr rabies vaccine, good for 3 yrs, and approximately an hr later began having frequent urination. I contacted the clinic that administered the shot, and have searched onlinle, but no connection has been determined as of yet. Will be monitoring her over the next few days. No other symptoms have been observed at this time.

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Luna

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American Bulldog

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16 Weeks

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Collapse
Lethargy
Breathing Difficulty
Loss Of Balance
Shock

I took my 16 week old american bully in today for her rabies and lepto shot. She had a severe reaction within 5 minutes of her vaccine. She collapsed as she was urinating and her gums turned white. She had to have IV fluids and some other medication given to her. She is about to be picked up after a few hours of monitoring this evening. Was a very very scary situation.

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Pugsley

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Pug

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13 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Reverse Sneezing
Lack Of Muscle Coordination

My 13-year-old pug has had an ear infection. After trying the first antibiotic for a few weeks and noticing his ears still smelled/looked red, I took him in yesterday to have the vet look at it again; he was also due for his 3-year rabies vaccine, so I figured we would address that too. The vet noticed bacteria in one ear (the one that was worse the first time around when we noticed he had the infection) and yeast in the other, so she suggested a second antibiotic, Claro, which she inserted into his ears yesterday; it remains in them for 3-4 weeks. In addition, she administered his rabies vaccine; both were done in the back. This morning, my pug started reverse-sneezing. I picked him up, gently bounced him and patted his back, and he got through it (he's done this before). 15 minutes later it happened again, and this time after I put him down after bouncing him a bit and it not helping, I put him down and he threw up (probably from the bouncing). As I gently patted his back and tried to calm him down, he dropped down (from a standing position, but he was on hardwood so he may have lost his balance) onto his side and kept reverse sneezing. He's had seizures about 1x a year so I know what they look like and what to do if this happens, but this wasn't a seizure--he wasn't disoriented afterward or sleepy like he usually is. The reverse sneezing stopped after that second instance until this evening, when he reverse sneezed a third time; I was able to calm him down. Our vet is closed otherwise I would call her. I don't see any swelling or redness on his body (I was reading online and saw some posts claiming rabies vaccines may be linked to allergic reactions to the vaccine itself; I was also wondering if it could be an allergy to the Claro?), he's breathing fine, and he's been totally normal all day, but the reverse sneezing frequency is making me nervous. Is this something I should worry about?

Rabies Vaccine Allergies Average Cost

From 571 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$400

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